Say what? Big businesses stealing our images? Yep! And it happens more than you think. While I cant say I was surprised when I read this article, it’s definitely something we should all be concerned with. And while this international scenario might not be exactly the same for us, we can definitely look locally to see this happening to a lot of photographers.
All too often, companies operate without fear of being caught using photography without permission. Hell, we have faced that challenge locally. Think about it, our images get more exposure today than ever before. Facebook, Pintrest, Instagram, Twitter, Google, and more. Images are all over the internet just waiting for someone to grab them and use them for a “mock up” design as was the case here with DKNY. Kudos to Brandon Stanton, NY photographer, for using social media to go after this fashion giant. Legal fees would have cost a small fortune and more than likely resulted in a losing battle for him. Instead, he called DKNY out and forced them to be publicly accountable for what is clearly bad behavior.
This is a challenge for all of us and one we have to remain diligent on. What can you do to protect yourself? For us, we ensure our logo is on every image out of the studio. 99% of the time, any images provided to vendors, Facebook, blogs, Pinterest, etc will have our logo or branding on it in some form or fashion. Is that a silver bullet? Of course not. People will find a way to steal and use images illegally all the time. However, it would be impossible for them to claim ignorance to the images not being their own or stock photos. Also, we rarely put out images that are more than 72dpi – limiting where and how they can be used.
In fact, the only time we will remove our logo, is when we are working directly with a design firm or company that we have direct contact with and want to design an ad or campaign using our images. In addition, we take it a step further. We encourage them to design the ad with our low res images with our logo on it. We then request final approval for the ad before it goes live ensuring photo credit is given to us. Once we see that, we send them the full resolution images to use and swap into the ad.
I realize that for commercial and other jobs this might not work as a solution, however, we all need to be aware of this and find a way to protect ourselves and our digital assets.
Read this article in its entirety // DKNY uses images without permission